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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Henry's Back Yard: Part One

Down a secret road, where the public isn't allowed...

...a grove of orange trees grows. The trees are about a hundred years old, I figure. Big, fluffy trees with branches that droop to the ground, where little purple wildflowers reach up to kiss the oranges.

The trees are precious and well cared for. They grow in the part of the Huntington Library and Gardens that most people don't see. The Huntington property is about 250 acres but 100 or so of those acres are closed to visitors.

Last week, on a cool, overcast day, I got to wander those quiet acres because I know a person in high places: a docent we'll call the Altadena Hiker.

More to come.

29 comments:

Dina said...

So important to have proteksia (vitamin P). So glad you could get in to that magic place. I've never seen orange trees in those shapes.

Eleonora said...

Lucky you...
Those orange trees are so lush they look like bushes. Wow, must've been quite a treat.

Brava Petrea

Ciao
E xx

Shell Sherree said...

Beautiful pictures, both in photos and in words, Petrea! I love the idea of the little flowers smooching with the oranges. And I suspected Hiker of being a decent docent. {Sorry, someone was bound to do it...}

L Barlow, AIA said...

Those are the old-fashioned orange trees that used to be around this area all over the place. Miss them.

Had a good old-fashioned earthquake, today too, at 4 am, not that big, but sharp

Katie said...

Oooh, you were able to get into the secret garden! (Yes, often it is who you know.) Can't wait to see more photos.

Virginia said...

Well all I can say is that this is so gorgeous I think I'll just pack my grip and hop a plane right out there and see it for myself! :) ANd that bottom photo took my breath Sistah!
V

altadenahiker said...

How did you get that fantastic flower shot!

(Yes, those orange trees are from the pre-Huntington era, and have the sweetest oranges in the world, or so I've been told.)

Petrea said...

It was a treat! And a little magical too, Dina.

All the orange trees I've ever seen before these have a trunk you can see, Eleonora. There are eight acres of these old trees. Visitors can glimpse a few of them from here.

Shell, you are too funny. I'd really like to go on one of Karin's official tours. This was unofficial, however--legal, because she has those privileges, but unofficial.

It woke us up, Laurie. Boz, too, although when I told him it was okay he went back to sleep. I had to make some notes before I could sleep again: "remove ceiling fan; call foundation bolters; etc."

Katie, everyone loves secret places, don't they? Some of this acreage will eventually be open to the public but I hope most of it will never be, even if I never get to see it again. I love the idea of a secret place existing. So much potential for dreaming.

You know people too, Virginia!

Karin, thanks again for taking me. As for the flower shot, I'm relatively steady, but don't enlarge it.

Correct me if I'm wrong, Karin: Huntington bought the land from a man named Shorb (have I got that right?) in 1903 and these orange groves were already mature at that time.
I should have eaten an orange while no one was looking. I'm such a rule follower. But that darn Hiker, she'd have slapped my hand.

TheChieftess said...

Verrrry interesting!!! I never knew about the secret garden at the Huntington!!! It's been a well kept secret!!!

Bellis said...

Perhaps the Garden of Eden looked like this? Low-hanging fruit, flowers for Eve's hair? I'm looking forward to more photos.

Karin the decent docent - I love it!

Petrea said...

I didn't either, Chieftess. I was nosing around on Google Maps and saw all that Huntington space and thought, "Why heavens to Betsy, they've never let me back in there!" So I asked my decent docent friend about it.

Eden, do you think, Bellis? Maybe so. The analogy fits--tempting fruit, right there and available, that you're not allowed to pick.

altadenahiker said...

Yes, you're right except, sadly, I believe some sort of foreclosure action had been visited on the Shorb family prior to Huntington's purchase.

Speaking of earthquakes, The Huntington is on the Raymond fault.

Margaret said...

You and your special connections.

Petrea said...

Yes, Margaret, connections you don't have commenting on your blog or anything.

I was reading this morning about Walter Raymond, who built the Raymond Hotel. Do you suppose the fault was named after him? What a legacy! His father was senior partner in "the first travel agency in the world to make a business of arranging trips for tourists," according to a booklet called "Valley of the Hahamog-na," put out by the Pasadena Savings and Loan Assn. in 1952. Walter Raymond brought a group of tourists to Pasadena (as their guide) in 1882, and never left.

Virginia said...

A little tune dedicated to Hiker

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDbXqGAXMOI

Oh I would so eat an orange and spit the seeds all over Henry's yard! Ooh KB, I'm just teasing you know.

TheChieftess said...

V...you absolutely crack me up!!! I think I wanna go spit orange seeds too!!!

Bellis said...

I think those flowers are anemones - they grow from bulbs. Wonder when they were first planted? In England the forest floors are sometimes covered with these in early spring, but with a white flower. This is such a special thing to find right here in Pasadena.

Petrea said...

I love me some Garth. I couldn't find an official video for that song. If we all start spitting orange seeds it would really be in the spirit.

Bellis, Pasadena has lots of special places, doesn't it?

altadenahiker said...

Keep spitting -- we'll have a whole new grove. (Unfortunately, I think most of the trees are navel oranges and so -- no seeds.)

Virginia said...

HIker,
Really? Who knew? WEll you would Little Miss Garden Expert/Docent! :) I'll bring some southern orange seeds, so there!
V

I love me some Garth too! whoo eeeee

Ms M said...

Lucky you to be able to wander in this beautiful place -- and lucky us, who get to see your photos :)

Petrea said...

Thank you, Ms. M. You're as sweet as a Huntington navel orange.

Yes, V, the Hiker is an expert on the Huntington, especially the gardens. Docents study for something like six months before they can lead tours and their work is volunteer. This kind of perk is the least the institution can do in return for their dedication. I'm not sure why I was so lucky. (Mental note: be very, very nice to Karin.)

AmyR said...

It's good to have connections.

Those little purple flowers are lovely.

Nishant said...

Those orange trees are so lush they look like bushes. Wow, must've been quite a treat.
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Dina said...

Oi, I hate you being jolted by an earthquake.

Back in the 70s we lived near the Med coast, near miles and miles of orange groves. I always took my little kids exploring there. Israel has an old custom that if a hiker going through the citrus groves is thirsty or hungry, she may pick an orange or grapefruit.

Petrea said...

It's all lovely, and indeed it was a treat.

We have local groups now organizing "public fruit" walks to harvest the what's available on public land. A good thing. I think the reason we're not supposed to eat the oranges in this place is because it's on private land and because these trees are being carefully husbanded (is that the word?), although I don't know what happens to the fruit.

I wish I'd eaten one.

Gina said...

What a treat! I love to wander around the slightly unkempt, ruins, and the like.

I keep smiling at the title of these posts...my younger son is named Henry and every time I read the title "Henry's Back Yard" I look out my back window and think, but my backyard is Henry's [my Henry's] backyard.

Petrea said...

Gina, I hope you have some secret places for your Henry to play in. That's the best part of a back yard.

Lori Lynn said...

I definitely enjoyed the tour of Henry's yard. What a special place.
LL